Sound has an long history with meditation and healing, including in ancient Greece when healing music was used for mental health. Other cultures that have used sound healing include Australian aboriginal tribes who used the didgeridoo as a sound healing instrument for over 40,000 years and Tibetan or Himalayan singing bowl spiritual ceremonies.
Sound Therapy uses sound, music and instruments in different ways to improve health and wellbeing. It includes sound healing, vibroacoustic sound therapy, music, and music therapy.
Practitioners of sound healing may use chimes, chanting, or drumming to create sound frequencies at specific intervals to promote health and healing of the mind and body.
Vibroacoustic sound therapy is a sound technology that uses audible sound vibrations. Sound frequencies within the range of human hearing are directed to the body through a system of transducers imbedded in soft furniture. Few clinical trials on the effects of vibroacoustic therapy have been published.
Ellen Zambo Anderson, in her book “Complementary Therapies for Physical Therapy”, writes about how research on music and music therapy has found that listening to certain types of music can lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce pain, decrease anxiety, and improve sleep. In fact, other studies have shown rhythm in particular, over melody, can provide physical pain relief.
One kind of sound meditation that has become popular and uses Tibetan singing bowls, quartz bowls, and bells to guide the listener are “sound baths.” These practices illustrate how the experience of sound manifests not only through hearing but through tactile physical vibrations and frequencies.
Sound healing can be a non invasive solution for muscle tensions, chronic pain, and many more physical, emotional and mental health challenges. It can also be a great form of relaxation and stress relief that doesn’t require a lot of effort to learn or discipline to reap the health benefits.
A review of 400 published scientific articles on music as medicine found strong evidence that music has mental and physical health benefits in improving mood and reducing stress.
One study set out to examine the effects of merely lying down and listening to the high intensity, low frequency combination of singing bowls, gongs, and bells in a sound meditation.
Following the sound meditation, participants reported significantly less tension, anger, fatigue, and depressed mood than before the session.
Sound healing is based on the principle that the entire Universe and all matter is made of energy and is in a state of vibration. All matter, including every organ, cell, bone, tissue and liquid of the body human beings carry a frequency. According to the Australian College of Sound Therapy, these make up what is our overall or resonate frequency. This is changeable and dependant on what we think, feel, eat, and do. Because these things are not always of a high vibration, our resonate frequency will drop which opens us to disease. Sound can be used to correct the low frequency and assist in bringing one back into balance.
Sound is measured in terms of Frequency or Hertz (Hz).
These healing frequencies and sounds are delivered via live sound therapy sessions.
Sound healing instruments can be applied both on the body and off the body. When instruments, such as tuning forks and singing bowls are played on the body, it is a form of local vibration therapy.
One theory is that sound works through the vibrational tactile effects on the whole body. Sound could stimulate touch fibres that affect pain perception.
According to the Australian College of Sound Therapy, sound healing instruments generate sound waves. Each molecule in the body absorbs a small amount of energy from these waves and then passes the wave on to the next molecule. When molecules are hit by sound waves close to their inherent frequency they will oscillate or strongly 'resonate'.
The oscillation, or resonance, of molecules, triggered by the sound vibrations cause alternating compression and relaxation of cells. It is like a form of massage at a cellular level deep within the tissue.
When the cell is compressed it loses some of its fluid, along with waste products and toxins. As the pressure relaxes, fresh nutrients are drawn into the cell and hormones within the tissue are also stimulated by this oscillation effect that will improve blood flow to the area for many hours. In this way, regeneration and repair mechanisms are stimulated.
Another theory on the benefits of sound rests on the concept of “binaural beats” or “brain entrainment” which hypothesizes that listening to certain frequencies can synchronize and change one's brainwaves.
Electrical activity in the brain is displayed in the form of brainwaves, measured using a device called electroencephalogram (EEG).
There are four categories of brainwaves, which range from frequencies that occur when your brain is most active (beta) to the least activity, such as in deep sleep (delta). Different states of alertness and consciousness in different parts of the brain generate varying frequencies of brainwaves.
The premise of binaural beats is that the brain synchronizes its brainwave frequency to the difference in hertz between tones played in each ear. When each ear hears a tone at a slightly different frequency, your brain tries to compensate by creating the perception of a third sound. To hear the binaural beat, you must have sound coming in each ear. When binaural beats are sustained over a period, they can synchronize with your brain waves. As a result, binaural beats can alter your brain wave activity as well as your levels of arousal.
As more research is being conducted to understand more the mechanism of the healing benefits of sound, such sound healing therapies offer therapeutic benefits with low to minimal side effects.
Sound healing sessions can be experienced 1 to 1 with a trained practitioner, where the client will be either sitting or lying down while listening to music or sounds from healing instruments.
Another way of benefiting from the healing power of sound is participating in a Sound Bath, where a group of participants lie on their back whilst a sound healing practitioner facilitates the session.
It is always advisable to seek advice from a medical practitioner before participating in sound therapy, particularly if you have any open wounds or have any medical conditions.
Do not use sound healing instruments on the body during pregnancy, especially during the first 12 weeks.